Give your site personal appeal

by Martin Reed on 21 May 2007 in Articles

My article last week about ‘The importance of being personal‘ was well received so I thought I would follow up with a post about how to give your site personal appeal.

As mentioned in my previous article, it is important to always make a member feel individually valued – using their name is a great start. Many sites I come across though, seem a little impersonal and sterile – because the staff and owner(s) choose not to make themselves appeal on a personal level.

Individuality and personability

How many forums and blogs have you come across where the owner uses the default name ‘admin’? Hardly a personal approach, is it? The simplest and easiest way of adding personal appeal to your site is to ensure that both yourself and your staff come across as just another member of the community.

Using names like ‘admin’ and ‘moderator’ distinguishes yourself from the rest of your community unnecessarily. Sure, you want your members to know that you are the owner or a moderator so they know who to approach if they have any problems – but this can be done through the use of ranks, or by distinguishing your status through colour or icons.

People like to interact with people

Go ahead and use your real name, or at least an approachable one. I am sure you will notice the difference. People like to interact with people. It is all too easy to forget that each individual in an online community is a real person. By using real names, you help remind people of this and encourage further interaction.

People like to interact with people who are similar to them

By using your own name, you are immediately perceived as being ‘the same’ as all other members of your community. People like to interact and talk to people who are similar to them – if your name is ‘admin’ you are immediately tagged as someone who is different.

This may be OK if your community is running perfectly without you but if you really want to be involved in getting your community buzzing this is an unnecessary barrier.

Small changes can reap large rewards

This article further outlines how seemingly small changes can make a huge difference to your online community. Are you using the default ‘admin’ username? Why not change it and see how it affects your interaction within your community?

Do you think impersonal names affect the interaction between staff and other community members? Do you think the choice of name is irrelevant? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below.

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Chicago 2016 May 21, 2007 at 7:08 pm

That’s important, but I’m just flabbergasted by bloggers who don’t respond to posts! It’s the most basic thing to do, but there are some who don’t.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Many blogs suck.

Martin Reed May 21, 2007 at 7:29 pm

So true Daniel – I have posted some constructive and well thought out comments on some blogs, only to get no response. Needless to say I no longer contribute to those ones!

Chicago 2016 May 21, 2007 at 8:50 pm

See, like that! Good man.

Martin Reed May 21, 2007 at 9:14 pm

I aim to please ;)

Success Online May 22, 2007 at 4:51 am

Absolutely. Too many robots out here and it’s nice to connect with people and like thinkers.

There is nothing worse than getting the autoresponder all the time. LOL

People love to be appreciated. Get personal


Shane May 22, 2007 at 5:50 am

It’s so important to connect with other people. People need people. Real people. It’s all about people.

Good stuff Martin!

Smiley May 22, 2007 at 9:50 am

I’ve always said this about staff. Too many do the “i am a robot” thing – users don’t want some humourless robot with no personality, they want an ordinary human who can banter and also be there for them if they need help.

I have a staff name which I use occassionally, just to let newer users know there’s staff about – but in the room and on the boards most of the time I use ‘Smiley’, and chat to people just normally and have a laugh – I just be myself.

People are much less stand off-ish with you like that, than if you’re sat there in a staff name all the time.

I don’t accept applications for staff, and if anyone asks to reply they’re automatically ejected. I make sure I appach people myself and offer them a position – not only does it make them feel valued but it ensures I’m getting exactly the type of person I want – humour & a personality that stands out is a BIG factor for me, someone who users can take to easily and will interact as normal.

Another good article :)

Smiley May 22, 2007 at 9:52 am

That’s *R*ejected, LOL, I don’t boot them for asking !! Bloody typos.

Martin Reed May 22, 2007 at 10:48 am

Stephen – You’re right; we do come across many robots online, eh? Let’s start a crusade to add the personal touch to the Web!

Shane – I couldn’t agree more. How often do we forget this simple basic rule?

Smiley – I think it is necessary to distinguish staff from other users so they know who to approach for help. However this can be done in ways other than using robotic names such as ‘Admin’ – at least add some user initials or some form of personality!

Smiley May 22, 2007 at 11:41 am

Alternatively, you could do it by using first names or a short username and add a sign afterwards.

Smiley+ for example. Get the software to reject any names with + in it, unless it’s a staff name.

Stays personal but still differentiates that user from non-staff users.

I sort of took your initials idea – I go with GoodStaffXX – it personalizes the staff name with the community, and also gives each staff their own identity like yours does.

I think it helps bring the community to a really personal level, personalizing and bonding the site with the staff and the users.

Michael July 23, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Nice thoughts, it is very important to be personal. People are more willing to help a person out rather than an admin.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 24, 2007 at 1:40 am

Michael – I agree; people communicate and share emotions with other people – not machines or robots!

It can be all too easy to forget that behind every user name is a real person!

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